Tag Archives: Diyarbakir

HDP arrests: on the road to dictatorship in Turkey

In the absence of concerted international pressure on Turkey to rein in Erdogan’s authoritarianism, the only plausible outcome is further violence.

By Francis O’Connor. Published 11-8-2016 by ROAR Magazine

"Meeting with the CHP delegation, HDP’s imprisoned Co-Chair Demirtaş has said that he didn’t go abroad despite knowing that he would be arrested, and imprisoned Mardin Co-Mayor Türk said “I am prepared for everything as long as peace is achieved in these lands” Photo: Rojava24/7/Facebook

“Meeting with the CHP delegation, HDP’s imprisoned Co-Chair Demirtaş has said that he didn’t go abroad despite knowing that he would be arrested, and imprisoned Mardin Co-Mayor Türk said “I am prepared for everything as long as peace is achieved in these lands” Photo: Rojava24/7/Facebook

The political situation in Turkey continues to deteriorate in the wake of the attempted coup d’état in July 2016, allegedly organized by the Gülen Movement, a former ally of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). It has in fact led to a slow incremental counter-coup where Erdogan and his cronies have progressively jailed, marginalized and silenced opponents of all hues — but especially the Kurdish movement.

The botched coup has conceded the Erdogan regime the pretext to arrest 80,000 suspects, 40,000 of whom remain in custody, while forcing the shutdown of more than 150 publications, the firing of more than 100,000 civil servants and the re-staffing of the army’s upper echelons with Erdogan loyalists. It has also furnished Erdogan with the opportunity to eradicate his principal political opponent, the pro-Kurdish, leftist People’s Democratic Party (HDP), which had been hindering his assumption of complete parliamentary control. Erdogan’s campaign culminated in the arrest of twelve HDP MPs, including its co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yüksekdag last Friday. Continue reading

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World remains silent as Turkey continues genocide against Kurds

Turkey continues unlawful and ongoing crackdown and purge of the dissent in Southeast Kurdish region

Written by Carol Benedict

 Protests as a UN Judge was arrested in Turkey. Photo: The Genocide Report/Twitter

Protests as a UN Judge was arrested in Turkey. Photo: The Genocide Report/Twitter

Following months of sieges, bombings, burnings, arrests, detentions and human rights violations in an effort to rid the country of the “Kurdish issue,” the Turkish government appears to be resorting to starvation in their genocide attempts against their Kurdish civilians. Yesterday, the Turkish government shuttered the doors of the only remaining food bank in Diyarbakir, Turkey’s largest city in the southeast region. The Sarmaşik Association serviced 5,400 families, feeding 32,000 people. Below this article is a statement from the center and their urgent plea for action.

Since July of this year, Turkey has been suppressing dissent within the country, fearing an uprising that could topple President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. On July 15, a failed coup attempt opened the floodgate for loosening of laws and policies within the country that represented democracy, and instead anyone that opposes Erdogan and his regime has been labeled a terrorist and is subject to arrest, detention, torture and in many cases, death.

As early as July 27, reports on CNN surfaced that “Authorities have fired or suspended at least 50,000 people from various institutions, including judges, teachers, soldiers, police and journalists.” The report also details torture, rape, water and food deprivation, beatings, denial of medical care, denial of access of lawyers and many other atrocities not allowed under the Geneva Convention, and especially within a NATO member country.

Human Rights Watch issued a report on October 25, further documenting human rights violations perpetrated by the Turkish government against Kurdish civilians in the southeast region, including children, women and elderly people. The Washington Post published the story, but buried it. It went relatively unnoticed. Turkey continued to deny all charges.

    As of now, Turkey is cracking down even harder, believing no one will stop them and that their actions are no one else’s affair.
  • Over 6,000 people, all members of Erdogan’s opposing political party, have been arrested with accusations “of promoting separatism and terror.”
  • Journalism is no longer an approved career; over 120 journalists have been arrested, each one having filed reports objecting to the actions of the government that were contrary to the nation’s Constitution. All Kurdish publications and broadcasts have been shutdown and identified as “terrorist propaganda,” including a Kurdish children’s education program featuring SpongeBob Squarepants.
  • Academics in Turkey are not safe either. Most that were Kurdish or signed a statement asking the government to lift sieges and curfews on Kurdish cities have all been fired from their positions, their offices raided, and the majority arrested, again, for the charges of separatism and terrorist activity.
  • On September 21, Turkey arrested Judge Aydin Sedaf Akay, a UN judge with immunity. All requests to visit him have gone ignored by the Turkish government. The UN Office of Legal Affairs has requested his release from detention and the cessation of all legal proceedings against him,” reports the Jerusalem Post. The arrest is believed to be the first occasion on which a UN judge’s immunity has been violated.
  • Around 18,000 people have been arrested since the failed coup. A further 70,000 people have been suspended or dismissed from their jobs in the civil service, judiciary, education, police, healthcare, the military and the media.

S  A  R  M  A  Ş  I  K

 

YOKSULLUKLA MÜCADELE VE SÜRDÜRÜLEBİLİR KALKINMA DERNEĞİ

Association for Struggle against Poverty and Sustainable Development


An Urgent Appeal for Support
 

Diyarbakir, Turkey

November 19, 2016

 

On November 12, 2016, Sarmaşik Association that runs the only food bank in Diyarbakir was shut down by the Turkish government. Sarmaşik Association has been serving 5,400 families, or 32 thousand people, in desperate need of monthly food baskets in order to survive.

 

After eleven years of active presence in the areas of struggling against urban poverty, building social solidarity networks, and promoting sustainable development in Diyarbakir, Sarmaşik Association for the Struggle against Poverty and Sustainable Development was shut down on November 12, 2016, by the Turkish government. Along with Sarmaşik Association, 370 civil society organizations were shutdown according to the the article eleven of the state of emergency (OHAL) law as part of another wave of post-failed coup crackdown against opposition groups in Turkey. All of activities of Sarmaşik Association are suspended for three months with the possibility of extending suspension for another period of time or becoming permanent.

 

Sarmaşik Association was founded in 2006 after a long process of discussions, meetings, and negotiations with people and organizations involved in the fight against poverty and advancing social solidarity in Diyarbakir in a rather unconventional environment. Sarmaşik was not only a civil society organization but also a platform for everyone in Diyarbakir to come together to help alleviating poverty in this severely impoverished city. The founding board of Sarmaşik Association consists representatives from Diyarbakir municipality and 32 active civil society organizations in Diyarbakir. These organizations are coming from a wide range of political tendencies in the city to produce an environment of cooperation between all parties to fight against poverty. Indeed, the intolerance against such an exemplary initiative was also an attack against the environment of cooperation despite all political differences.

 

Sarmaşik is an organization that has been providing assistance for the most disadvantaged, marginalized, and impoverished people in Diyarbakir that live much below the poverty line and under the risk of hunger. They have zero income and in most desperate need of assistance who are also mostly excluded from any social assistance mechanisms and programs in place. These are families that may not even have enough food for a daily meal. Sarmaşik Association has provided 5,400 families, or almost 32 thousand people, in the situation described above. Our association operates the only food bank in Diyarbakir that provides monthly basic food baskets to these families. Our educational support program also provides educational bursaries and free tutoring sessions for children of these families. We have done this work without any discrimination and in the most respectful way for these families’ dignity. In the last eleven years, we have assisted our families 180 thousand times in total. All the details of our operation are available and given to the government authorities, and our financial and operational records have been audited and reviewed multiple times by inspectors from the Turkish Ministry of Interior and verified by them.

 

Closing down Sarmaşik Association, before anything else, is violation of the right of 32 thousand people under the risk of hunger to access food. It means punishing the most excluded and vulnerable people with hunger and their existing living conditions. Leaving 32 thousand people without food and much needed assistance is not only a crime against them and our association but also a crime against humanity. With the coming cold season in Diyarbakir, these people are facing more difficult situation. We are deeply concerned about the daily survival of our 5,400 families. We call everyone and every organization concerned with poverty, inequality, injustice, and human rights around the world, especially anti-poverty groups, food banks, and development agencies to support Sarmaşik Association in such difficult times. You can do so by sending emails, faxes, and letters of support and solidarity for Sarmaşik to Turkish embassies in your countries, the Parliament of Turkey, Turkish Prime Minister, and the Turkish Ministry of Interior and protest shutting down Sarmaşik Association (please find their contact information below). We ask you to urge your governments to put pressure on the Turkish state to open our association and to end the unlawful and ongoing crackdown and purge of the dissent in Turkey. Please circulate this appeal among your friends and networks. You can find more information on Sarmaşik Association and our activities in the attached document to this email. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

 

Yours,

 

Mehmet Şerif Camci – Chair

On behalf of Sarmaşik Association

 

Contact Info

 

Email:

mserifcamci@gmail.com

mserifcamci@hotmail.com.

Tel: +905326274745

Address:

Selahattin Eyübi Mah., T.Özal Bulvarı,

Aydınkent Şelale Evleri 7.Blok Kat:4 No: 11

Bağlar, Diyarbakır

Turkey

Web: www.sarmasik.org

 

 

You can find the contact info of Turkish embassies and consulates in your countries on this webpage:

http://www.mfa.gov.tr/turkish-representations.en.mfa

Contact info for the Turkish Parliament, Turkish Prime Ministry and Turkish Ministry of Interior are below:

 

TBMM İnsan Hakları İnceleme Komisyonu (Human Rights’ Investigation Commission of the Turkish Parliament)

 

Mustafa Yeneroğlu – Komisyon Başkanı (Commission’s Chair)

 

Address:

TBMM İnsan Hakları İnceleme Komisyonu

Bakanlıklar, 06543

Ankara

Turkey

Fax: +90 312 420 24 92

Email: insanhaklarikom@tbmm.gov.tr

 

Başbakan (Turkish Prime Minister)

 

Binali Yıldırım

 

Address:

Vekaletler Caddesi

Başbakanlık Merkez Bina

P.K. 06573

Kızılay / Ankara

Turkey

Fax: +90 312 403 62 82

Email: ozelkalem@basbakanlik.gov.tr

 

İçişleri Bakanı (Minister of Interior)

 

Süleyman Soylu

 

Address:

İçişleri Bakanlığı

Bakanlıklar

Ankara

Turkey

Fax: +90 312 418 17 95

Fax: +90 312 425 85 09

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Writing from Diyarbakır under blockade

While writing this article, currently without access to the world, I can’t help but wonder how you will read it.

By Nurcan Baysal. Published 11-1-2016 by openDemocracy

Protests throughout Diyarbakir erupted on October 26, 2016 following the arrests of the city's co-mayors. Image via Twitter.

Protests throughout Diyarbakir erupted on October 26, 2016 following the arrests of the city’s co-mayors. Image via Twitter.

Diyarbakır, the unofficial capital of the Kurdish people, has been one of the main locations of armed conflict between the PKK and the Turkish state. Since August 2015, numerous curfews have been declared in the city and its villages, hundreds of civilians have been killed, the centre of the 5000 year old city Suriçi was bombed, and half of the old city was totally destroyed. The curfew still continues in the old city Suriçi. Today is the 333rd day of the curfew.

Right now, the city is undergoing another trauma. Two days ago, the co-mayors of Diyarbakır, Gültan Kışanak and Fırat Anlı, were detained by the Turkish police with the allegation that they are “supporting the PKK terror organization”. Kışanak was detained in Diyarbakir Airport, on her way back from Ankara, while Anlı was detained at his home in the center of Diyarbakir. According to the press release of the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, Kışanak and Anlı were detained due to statements they had made, under laws governing their rights to freedom of speech.

Following their detention, all internet connection was cut across the Kurdish region. 6 million people have been cut off from the world for the past 3 days.

Why did the Turkish government cut off internet in the Kurdish region?

The government is trying to prevent the mobilization of Kurdish people through social media. Kurdish people are very angry because of the detention of their co-mayors. They want to protest. The government has prohibited all kinds of protests, gatherings and marches under the Emergency Law.

This blackout also aims to silence the voices of the Kurdish people,  to prevent them from informing the national and international public about developments in the region.

What has happened in these two “dark” days?

The municipality building has been completely closed by police barriers, panzers and thousands of police officers. Even municipal staff have been forbidden to enter the building.

On the first day, hundreds of people tried to gather in front of the municipality building. The police tried to prevent the people from gathering and protesting. It was a hard day, full of tear gas and water cannon. The police did not only use tear gas and water, but guns were turned against protestors as well. Many people were injured by police violence. At the end of the day, 37 protestors, some of them Kurdish politicians, were also detained.

Thousands of Kurdish people gathered in front of the municipality building on the second day. The co-president of HDP, Selahattin Demirtaş gave a speech to the crowd of people. He said that the Kurdish people will not accept the detention of their co-mayors and encouraged people to continue their peaceful protests until the release of the co-mayors.

Message to Kurds

Kurdish cities have witnessed outrage, killings and bombings all year. Just a month ago, on 11 September, 27 elected mayors were replaced by appointed state officers, 11,285  Kurdish teachers were fired from their jobs. Hundreds of Kurdish politicians and activists have been detained. Almost all Kurdish media, even the Kurdish childrens’ channel have been closed down. As of today, 27 elected Kurdish co-mayors are in prison in Turkey, while 43 of them were dismissed.

The detention of Diyarbakır’s co-mayors is an important phase in a year-long process.

The government has blocked all political access to Kurdish people in Turkey. With these policies, the government is sending a message to all Kurdish people: “There is no legal way to gain rights for Kurdish people.  There is no place for Kurds in this country.”

While looking at my municipality, which has been under police blockade for 3 days, I wonder if the Kurdish people will accept these humiliating policies.

As a member of the Kurdish society, I can easily say NO. Kurds are part of a very organized society, a resilient society, struggling for their rights for more than a century. They will continue their struggle, though I believe these policies risk the future of Turkey as a country.

While writing this article, currently without access to the world, I can’t help but wonder how you will read it.

About the author

Nurcan Baysal is a Kurdish author who has published numerous books and articles about Turkey’s Kurdish issue.

This article is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence.

 

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Istanbul bombing: Turkish PM tries to put blame on Kurds

A suicide bomber blew himself up in central Istanbul. With no-one claiming the attack, the Turkish government eagerly used it for their own propaganda.

By Joris Leverink. Published 1-29-2016 by ROAR Magazine.

Photo: Twitter

Photo: Twitter

On Tuesday, January 12 a big explosion took place in the heart of Istanbul’s tourist district of Sultanahmet. The explosion was caused by a suicide bomber who blew himself up next to a group of mainly German tourists, instantly killing ten and injuring 15 others. Soon, the bomber was identified as a Saudi born Syrian man who had recently entered Turkey as a refugee.

According to the Turkish authorities the man was linked to the so-called Islamic State (IS, or ISIS), making this the terrorist group’s fourth deadly suicide bombing in Turkey in one year. Previous attacks that have been ascribed to – but haven’t been claimed by – IS occurred in Diyarbakir in June, Suruç in July and Ankara in October, with a death toll totaling around 140. Continue reading

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Academics for Peace: “enemies of the state” in Turkey

About 1,100 Kurdish and Turkish academics signed a letter condemning the ongoing atrocities by the Turkish army. In response, Erdoğan accused them of treason

Authored by Francis O’Connor & Semih Celik. Published in ROAR Magazine on 1-16-2016.

Police are arresting Academics in Turkey for signing a declaration. Photo via Twitter.

Police are arresting Academics in Turkey for signing a Declaration for Peace. Photo via Twitter.

“I am fine with everything except for imprisonment,” says a recently appointed Assistant Professor from one of the most prominent universities of the country, in Ankara.

“Everything happened so quickly. First, we signed the statement, the next day President Erdoğan was condemning us with the worst of adjectives, immediately after that, came the inquiries.”

His personal anxiety in the face of the latest clampdown on academics in Turkey is one example, but it is representative of the common mood among hundreds of young academics who have become part of a movement “Academics for Peace” through their signing of a statement.

KURDISH AREAS UNDER SIEGE

Since August last year, the Turkish government has imposed intermittent open-ended military curfews on an array of Kurdish cities in its campaign against young militants in the YDG-H, which is linked to the PKK. These have been dramatically scaled up since mid-December, however, when a number of cities — most notably the Sur district of Diyarbakir, Cizre, Silwan, Şırnak and Silopi — were put under military siege.

In these cities, around 200,000 civilians are trapped in what remains of their houses, in some cases for up to 30 days — many without electricity, water or even food in some places. Injured civilians have been prevented from accessing medical attention and have subsequently died of their wounds. Families have been prevented from reclaiming the bodies of their loved ones.

According to the Turkish Human Rights Foundation, the civilian death toll as of January 8 is 162 civilians, including 32 children, 29 women and 24 victims over 60 years of age. These extensive sieges involve enormous deployments of soldiers and police officers encircling urban centers before targeting them with heavy artillery, oblivious to the presence of local residents.

A CLAMPDOWN ON ACADEMICS

In light of Turkey’s flagrant disregard for both its own laws and international human rights protocols, more than a thousand Kurdish and Turkish academics signed a letter declaring that they would not pay silent witness to the ongoing atrocities. They announced: “we will not be a party to this massacre by remaining silent and demand an immediate end to the violence perpetrated by the state.”

The letter further called for an immediate end to the curfew, the presence of international monitors in the affected districts and a restoration of the peace negotiations which Erdoğan deliberately scuppered in an effort to restore the AKP’s electoral dominance last summer.

In response to the call for an end to the violence, Erdoğan decried the signatories’ ignorance, accused them of favoring colonialism and ultimately of treason. In the immediate aftermath, state prosecutors initiated legal proceeding against all the original signatories of the declaration, charging them with “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” and “overtly insulting the Turkish nation, the State of the Republic of Turkey, Grand National Assembly of Turkey, the Government of Republic of Turkey and the judicial organs of the state.” These charges can result in sentences of up to five years in prison. Twenty-two of the signatories have already been taken into custody.

In addition to these legal proceedings, the Council of Higher Education (Yükseköğretim Kurumuo, or YÖK) has vowed to take further punitive measures against the signatories. YÖK has demanded that Prof. Bülent Tanju from Abdullah Gül University in Kayseri resign, while individual university administrations — contrary to all legal protocols — have suspended or fired their own staff members, such as in the case of Professor Latife Akyüz in Düzce University.

In cities like Bolu and Kocaeli in northwestern Turkey, police have raided the houses of signatories. Incidentally YÖK was established by the military government in 1982 as a means to limit universities’ autonomy and restrict their capacity to serve as sources of opposition to the state.

A CAMPAIGN OF DEMONIZATION

In parallel to this blatant suppression of freedom of expression, a concerted media and political campaign is trying to further demonize the signatories. Turkey’s far-right MHP party has been to the forefront these efforts: one of its Istanbul deputies, İzzet Ulvi Yönter, declared that “the government should immediately take action and fight as it does in the districts of Sur, Cizre, Dargeçit and Silopi against the terrorists in universities.”

Meanwhile, other figures with links to fascist or Turkish nationalist organizations such as the criminal Sedat Peker have threatened: “at that moment, the bell will toll for you all … I would like to say it again: we will spill your blood and we will shower in it!”

This cannot be dismissed as an idle threat. Turkey has a long and shameful history of murdering intellectuals, critical academics and journalists. Calls like these are seized upon by university students of extreme right-wing political organizations like the Grey Wolves, responding with insults and threats to the signatories, mostly by marking and sticking threatening letters on their office doors promising to “make the city hell” for their own professors.

Students have also acted upon their threats by raiding their professors’ offices. Prof. Kemal İnal’s life, for instance, was directly threatened by his own colleagues. As a result, he was one of the two signatories to withdraw their signature. The threats, both from state officials and public figures, have found support among the pro-government and pro-state segments of Turkish society, contributing to the signatories’ stigmatization and leading only to further polarization.

A SENSE OF SOLIDARITY

The threats and legal measures have created a strong sense of solidarity among the academics who had signed the statement. Nearly all of the more than 1,100 signatories have declared that they stand firmly behind their words. Their efforts have been further supported by their own students in universities, and in a wave of statements of solidarity from filmmakers, journalists, publishing houses and authors.

However, given the horrendous human rights credentials of the Turkish state, anxiety caused by the inability to foresee what is awaiting them makes it harder to bear the smear campaign launched by the government and state institutions. “What is the worst that could happen?” worries one comrade who had signed the statement. The ambiguity of criminal codes and their arbitrary application since the 1990s leaves this ghastly question mark hovering in the signatories’ minds.

For a younger generation of academics who have been politicized in post-1990s Turkey, the immediate example is the unlawful imprisonment, for months, of thousands of Kurdish university students and professors, activists, journalists and members of the pro-Kurdish party under the accusation that they were members of the “civilian” wing of PKK, the KCK, in 2011.

The likelihood of spending months in prison makes losing academic positions a concern of lesser importance. Many of the affected academics who have established ties with institutions outside of Turkey maintain the possibility of fleeing abroad in order to be able to continue their professional careers in environments with a minimum breach to their freedom of expression.

Despite this gloomy and pessimistic picture, initial feelings of sorrow, weariness, fear and anxiety have been transformed into hope as a result of the ever-growing sense of solidarity. Another comrade, a research assistant from a private university in Istanbul whose contract has been suspended due to the ongoing investigations, expressed her happiness for the huge number of solidarity messages she has received in a single day.

In this light, we should consider that the ultimate outcome of the clampdown on the Kurdish activists in 2011 was broader solidarity and a better organized Kurdish movement, whose mobilization made the peace talks and the ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish armed forces possible.

At the moment, our conversations end with a sense of hope generated by the acts of solidarity of friends, colleagues and total strangers. Solidarity remains the only force to beat the darkness that prevails in the country for more than 40 years. Another comrade reminds us the famed verses of one of the most prominent contemporary poets of Turkey, Murathan Mungan: “Our path might cross through steppes/Yet; the streets will reach the sea.”

A COLLECTIVE INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE

Tonight, thousands of brave academics, journalists and activists across Turkey are anxiously awaiting a knock at the door — a knock that could potentially escort them to years in prison or add them to the tragic list of great minds murdered for views considered impermissible by the state. Similarly, tens of thousands of civilians are cowered down in the basements of Silopi, Cizre and Sur, parents attempting to lull hungry children to sleep while being bombarded by their own government.

Emboldened by his success in the November elections, Erdoğan is determined to quell any internal opposition and to silence all voices which resist his violent authoritarianism. The Turkish state’s willful disregard of its own citizens’ well-being and rights, and its determination to punish those who refuse to remain silent in face of its atrocities, demands a collective response from international political actors, activists and civil society.

Let us collectively raise our voices and act in solidarity with our Kurdish and Turkish colleagues and comrades under threat in Turkey. Solidarity demonstrations are being organized across the globe, across Europe, North America and of course in Turkey itself. The barbarism and inhumanity of Erdoğan and his regime needs to be halted.

The world can no longer remain complicit by its silence.

About the Authors:
Francis O’Connor is a Germany-based researcher from Ireland. He completed his PhD at the European University Institute on the Kurdish struggle in Turkey.
Semih Celik is a PhD candidate at the European University Institute, department of History and Civilization.

Related Article:
Why Turkey’s government is threatening academic freedom

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Kurds resist state-imposed curfews in Turkey

Since August, 52 curfews have been declared by the Turkish state in Kurdish towns and neighborhoods. Despite the repression, the resistance is thriving.

Written by Joris Leverink. Published 12-15-2015 in ROAR Magazine.

What remains of a home in Sur, one of the Kurdish towns and neighborhoods placed under curfew by the Turkish authorities. Image via Twitter.

What remains of a home in Sur, one of the Kurdish towns and neighborhoods placed under curfew by the Turkish authorities. Image via Twitter.

The scenes of destruction in the Kurdish towns and neighborhoods placed under curfew by the Turkish authorities do not just resemble a war zone – they are a war zone. This is a war of a government against its people. A total war, in which a government is indiscriminately targeting a civilian population, killing the youth, destroying houses, burning down historical monuments.

Dozens of people have been killed by Turkish police and special forces in the past few months. From months-old babies to 76-year old grandfathers. Mothers, daughters, students, school kids – lives cut short by the terror of the state.

The world might prefer to ignore this fact because Turkey is being such a valuable ally at the moment. On the one hand it plays a role as the gatekeeper of Fortress Europe, while on the other it is the patron of many “opposition” groups fighting against Assad in Syria – many of whom awkwardly keep their imperialist friends close, but their jihadi enemies even closer.

On Friday, a curfew that had been imposed on Sur, the historical district of Diyarbakir, was lifted for a few hours. In the nine days the neighborhood was cut off from the outside world, special police forces descended upon the area like vultures on a feast. Randomly bombing and shooting at the densely populated neighborhood where there is no escape from the violence for those trapped inside.

During an earlier curfew several weeks ago, special forces had left a message on the wall of one of the neighborhood’s houses: “You will see the power of the Turk”, signed, the Esedullah Tim. There has been much ado about this special ops team, whose name translates to “lions of god”. In every town under curfew, the same graffiti appears on walls, and locals speak of bearded men shouting insults, and using extreme violence against the population.

So far, their existence remains shrouded in mystery, with the government refusing to comment. It is clear, however, that this is a special unit placed above the law, whose sole purpose is to terrorize the population.

In the June elections, the leftist Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), with its roots in the Kurdish freedom movement, managed to breach the exceedingly high 10 percent electoral threshold, bringing an end to the 13-year one-party rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). Posing a serious obstacle to the ambitions of the AKP’s founder and current president Erdoğan to turn Turkey into a 21st century sultanate, the HDP and its Kurdish supporters became the target of a state-orchestrated terror campaign.

The peace process between the state and the Kurdish guerrillas of the PKK was brought to an end, and a bombing campaign of PKK positions in Turkey and northern Iraq was launched. Hundreds of HDP party offices across the country were attacked by nationalist mobs, while the police failed to intervene. Kurdish people were attacked on the streets, abused, insulted and in some cases even killed. The Turkish military even attacked the Kurdish YPG militias fighting against the so-called Islamic State across the border in Syria.

curfews in TurkeyThe Human Rights Foundation of Turkey released a detailed report listing the 52 curfews that have been declared by the state since August. Repeated round-the-clock curfews, often lasting days on end, were imposed in 17 different cities, affecting 1.3 million people. A total number of 157 people have died during these curfews, murdered by the state.

Currently, curfews are imposed in five different towns and neighborhoods: Sur in Diyarbakir, Dargecit and Nusaybin in Mardin, and in Cizre and Silopi in Sirnak.

There are fears that the crackdown will be especially long and brutal in Cizre and Sirnak. On Sunday the government ordered all school closed, dormitories shut down and called all teachers back to their home towns to attend “special training sessions” — apparently to spare the large number of Turkish teachers from the terror launched against their Kurdish countrymen. While police and military forces were amassing at the cities’ borders, hospitals received instructions to be prepared.

Some teachers of the Egitim-Sen Union chose to ignore the government’s orders and to stay in the towns. Independent news website Sendika.org spoke to the co-chair of the local chapter of the union, Serhat Ugur, who was quoted as saying:

“It is as if we have a war here. They are coming as if to destroy our whole town and raze it to the ground. How could such a move be justified? If this happened in Palestine everybody [in Turkey] would be up in arms. We are following the news, but not a whisper of the events here is heard. We are facing a total annihilation. They [the government] are coming here as if to confine us inside for about 10-15 days.”

In the past days, major protest occurred in many cities across the Kurdish parts of Turkey. The biggest protest was seen in Diyarbakir, where tens of thousands of people defied a ban by the governor and took to the streets in solidarity with the people of Sur. In the clashes, two youths of 21 and 19 years old, were shot dead by the police.

The war across Kurdistan continues. In the southern parts, the Kurds are fighting the Islamic State, and in the north they are under attack from the Turkish government. When the AKP was rewarded for its strategy of divide and rule prior to the November elections, and received nearly 50 percent of the votes despite its campaign of terror directed against its own citizens, all incentives to look for a peaceful solution to the so-called “Kurdish issue” had vanished.

The violence, repression, and the propaganda aimed at polarization and marginalization has paid off. In the international arena, no country will stand up to Turkey and demand that it respects the lives and demands of its Kurdish citizens. Locally, the media remains firmly under the control of the government, allowing for little news from the besieged towns to reach the outside world.

Meanwhile, the people of Cizre, Silopi, Sur and Nusaybin brace themselves for what might be weeks of shootings, bombardments and killings — not even safe inside their own homes because a bullet or a rocket might come flying through the window any minute.

The Turkish state calls this “fighting terror”, but they have misunderstood. The only true fight against terror is fought by the people on the streets and behind the barricades, in the cities and in the mountains, at the assemblies and in the local meetings. This fight is long and hard, and has been going on for decades, if not centuries. But it takes more than a few masked men and some heavy artillery to break the resistance.

In the words of the tens of thousands protesters on the streets of Diyarbakir: “The struggle continues and Kurdistan will be the grave of fascism!”

About the Author:
Joris Leverink is an Istanbul-based political analyst, freelance writer and activist. He is an editor for ROAR Magazine, columnist for teleSUR English and Turkey-contributor for the IPS news agency. He blogs at Deciphering Disorder.

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Missing from Turkey’s peace process: memory, truth and justice

The resolution of the Kurdish question is closely linked to both truth and justice for past crimes, but also to ending ongoing state violence against Kurds.

Written by YESIM YAPRAK YILDIZ.  Published April 4, 2015 in OpenDemocracy.

Photo By James Gordon [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By James Gordon [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

“There is no such thing [as the Kurdish question].  Tell me my [Kurdish] friends what is it that you don’t have?” These were the words recently uttered by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has been negotiating a peace deal with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK – Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan) to bring about a peaceful solution to the country’s long running conflict.

“Our bones are missing; our graves, our lives are missing” was probably the best answer to Erdoğan, given by a member of Saturday Mothers, an initiative formed by the families of the disappeared during the last four decades of Kurdish conflict. “If the President has got any conscience, he would not ridicule us like this. For 20 years we have been gathering in Galatasaray Square for the bones of our children. We, the mothers are dying from longing for our children.” Continue reading

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